The tradition of Jewish theatre in Cleveland dates back to 1910, when a group of Yiddish theatre lovers who called themselves the Progressive Dramatic Club presented a performance of Jacob Gordin’s Di Brider Luria. Over the years the group grew into The Literary Dramatic Society and ultimately, The Drama Center. Stars of New York’s Yiddish stage came to Cleveland to perform in storefront spaces and rented halls with local actors. In 1960, the group would find a home at the Jewish Community Center’s Halle Theatre, in Cleveland Heights. The Halle closed in 2005. And the JCC ceased staging adult theatre in 2009.
In 2011, Beachwood playwright Faye Sholiton founded Interplay Jewish Theatre to revive a beloved cultural tradition. She chose the name from Emily Mann’s description of the perfect theater experience: “the interplay of head and heart.” Interplay would present quality works in professional staged readings, all offered free to the public. Themes would vary, but every play had to view the contemporary world through a distinctly Jewish lens.
On September 14, 2011, Interplay presented a staged reading of Deborah Margolin’s Imagining Madoff, a drama about our human capacity for greed. It played to a packed house at Dobama Theatre in Cleveland Heights.
Since then, Interplay has produced a series of extraordinary works by a range of living artists, most of whom we’ve brought to Cleveland to take part in the audience discussion. We’ve explored difficult topics: the Middle East conflict, racism, Holocaust denial and the aftermath of nuclear meltdown – and family meltdown. We’ve also laughed at our capacity for ridiculousness.
We’ve partnered with several host theaters and organizations: Cleveland Public Theatre, Dobama, Ensemble Theatre, Lakeland Community College and the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. As of 2014, Dobama Theatre is our home.
Interplay runs entirely on donations from generous friends and audience members.
As of November 2013, we are engaged in a partnership with the Maltz Museum to stage works that explore themes of diversity and multicultural understanding. These Interplay/Maltz collaborations are announced here and on the museum website.
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At Interplay, there’s a role for everyone.